For All Mankind Season 2 Episode 3 Review: Rules of Engagement

Armed astronauts and beer in bed. Will wonders never cease?

For All Mankind Season 2 Episode 3 explored the realities of the US/Russia situation on the moon, and it could get ugly.

And Tracy’s penchant for booze makes you wonder if she should be anywhere near the moon anytime soon, something we’ve already wondered about her ex, Gordo.

There are some pretty shading happenings on the moon, and the US doesn’t know how to deal with it, so we don’t know what to make of it, either. But arming astronauts doesn’t seem like a good idea, no matter how you slice it.

The military was already all aflutter during the solar flare and had bantered around weaponizing one of the upcoming shuttles. So when astronauts discovered their gear displaced on the moon, it caused quite a panic.

It seems the Russians took over a US mining area, leaving the US to ponder how to get it back and keep it. Reagan decided it was as easy as getting it back under our control.

But the discussion around the table with everyone that matters proved it wasn’t going to be that easy. Margo initially thought getting it back was imperative. Then Bradford stated the obvious.

Look I don’t like this idea any more than the rest of you, but here’s the truth. We cannot hold Site 357 Bravo without armed security.

General Bradford

That ruffled Margo’s feathers quite a bit and started talking about sanctions. It’s hard to imagine what good sanctions would do on the moon, so far away from everything being sanctioned. Even Ed agreed that the only way to hold a position on the moon would be through force.

Ed’s in an interesting position, though, and it’s one that he’d rather not be in. He has first-hand experience with his pal “Ivan,” aka Mikhail on the moon. Mikhail wasn’t the monster Ed would have expected, and without his help, he might not have successfully gotten off the moon at all.

With the Russian taking over a mining site, it’s impossible for NASA not to question if Mikhail might not have gotten the better of Ed, knowing full well he was grieving and possibly not at his best. Did they plant a bug in little Jamestown?

My immediate thought was that the place had grown so exponentially that it would be pretty difficult to have planted something in that pod that was still effectively transmitting today, but that didn’t occur to anyone else.

The possibility that his mental anguish caused the recent activity on the moon put him through the wringer, and the last thing he needed was for Kelly to be considering following in her father’s footsteps.

The way I see it, we’re the ones who brought them up in this fucked up world. The least we can do is to let them go live in it. We owe them that much.


Kelly’s desire to attend Annapolis, finding Shane’s hiding space for his favorite toys and Ed’s confusion collided for one hell of a family argument.

It’s hard to believe that Ed spent so long blaming himself and that he never properly grieved for the son he lost, but the confluence of recent events worked as a pressure system that ultimately popped his cork, cleansing him of everything he’d been holding onto for a decade.

That scene showed the family’s staying power. Ed and Karen were childhood sweethearts, but nothing prepared them for the tragedy they suffered, and even knowing Karen better than anyone in the world (or maybe because of it), Ed never revealed his thoughts.

That release promises to provoke Ed in ways he’s disregarded for just as long. Just as his friends are finding the fire inside them again, so will Ed. It should get interesting.

Gordo and Tracy were respectively going through the thick of their despair, too. They’ve gotten lost along the way with pity or fame.

Danielle: I’m sure it just shrank in the dryer.
Gordo: Very funny.

Gordo’s discovery that he’d outgrown his NASA blues and slipped behind technological advances didn’t phase him all that much. Ed’s belief in Gordo wasn’t enough for him to realize he’s worthy of Ed’s confidence. But discovering himself in Tracy’s orbit again did the trick.

We have yet to meet this Sam Cleveland character that Tracy married. And if she’s drinking in bed, a bed she shared with her husband that night, then it’s not exactly a union to be celebrated.

Hey, Gordo. I’m lookin’ for my keys to the house, and I can’t find them. Oh, shit. I hope I didn’t lose them in the field or in the car.
Gordo: Nah, you didn’t leave ’em. I took them.
Tracy: You what?
Gordo: I took the keys to this place off your keyring.
Tracy: OK, look, I don’t have time to do this right now. Can you just give me back my keys please?
Gordo: Believe me, I would, but last time I checked, they fit these locks, and these locks are attached to this house, and this house is attached to my name. So, technically, they’re my keys.
Tracy: No, the house is under our name.
Gordo: That’s another thing. Aren’t you supposed to change that when you get remarried?

She’s a mess, and that was before and after her drunken rager that left her puking in Gordo’s car and unloading on Ed about being an Astro Wife.

That entire situation led me to believe she was so over her media-forced connection with Gordo that it ruined their marriage and forced her to question her value in the space program. She found herself valuable as a NASA media darling, but she’s still terribly unfulfilled.

I wonder if the mission schedule will find her working harder as an astronaut again instead of representing them so that she doesn’t fall into old patterns.

She was pretty ticked off when Gordo stood up for himself, but he was so far down in the dumps after Danielle took the fall for his mental episodes on the moon that he let himself and his family down even more.

It was time that he cut the ties, and it was time that Tracy realized that she didn’t get to hold Gordo’s past against him for the rest of his life so that she could feel better about it. Still, they know each other very well, and it will be fun watching them navigate their shared space in space.

Speaking of being let down, Margo finally caught up with Aleida, sort of by accident. Something happened between them in the ten years between seasons. Whatever it was, it seems to have allowed an already volatile young woman to really cash in on that behavior to her detriment.

Her buttons are easily pushed, and it doesn’t seem like ideal NASA behavior, but Margo probably needs to make up for whatever happened between them, so she offered Aleida a job.

Has Margo just invited an incendiary soul to shake things up at NASA?

I guess we’ll find out as the season continues with For All Mankind Season 2 Episode 4.

What did you think of “Rules of Engagement”?

Hit the comments to share your thoughts.

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Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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